Top stories of 2020: Molly Horak

2020 was filled with “grim milestones” and “unprecedented times,” but a bright spot was joining the Xpress team in May, two months into the COVID-19 pandemic. From the rocky start to remote learning to the ways residents are responding to financial challenges, my five favorite stories reflect some of the creative and resilient ways community members have responded to the year’s competing crises.



Photo courtesy of Buncombe County

A key element in state plans for easing restrictions gears up 

Local contact tracers describe the methods used for notifying a person they’ve tested positive for COVID-19 — and what comes next. As the state formulates a plan to slowly ease restrictions on public life, contact tracing will be a key part of the strategy, and hundreds of new workers will be needed to help handle the load.



Photo by Cindy Kunst

Co-op network grows community-based businesses

Launching a small business is never easy, but it’s even harder when the proprietors face systemic obstacles to business ownership. Through shared resources and community support, five Emma cooperatives are creating a model for equity and growth.







Photo by Getty Images

Community members prepare for coming wave of evictions 

The looming eviction crisis has threatened renters for months, teasing tenants with temporary relief measures that end just when cash-strapped residents need them the most. In North Carolina, up to 42% of households are at risk of eviction.




Photo courtesy of Shannon Cooper

Remote learning fails students with disabilities

Virtual schooling is a constant challenge for children with disabilities. School-based resources like speech and physical therapy are hard to deliver remotely — and federal limitations to Medicaid have kept families from filling an essential gap in help for their kids.





Photo courtesy of the city of Asheville

City Council candidates talk zoning, land use

Zoning may not deliver the same zing as other hot-button issues in a competitive election cycle, but it’s among the most crucial discussions Asheville leaders and residents face as the city grows. Each candidate has different ideas about what to do first. 



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About Molly Horak
Molly Horak served as a reporter at Mountain Xpress. Follow me @molly_horak

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